SPIRITUAL PRACTICE IN CHALLENGING TIMES – ACCESSING YOUR POWER EVERY DAY

“May you live in interesting times.”

~ Ancient Chinese Curse

We live in interesting times – which means that we live in challenging times. Of course, there are always challenges present, there is only a difference in degree and in how individuals or group relate to the challenges present. But for each of us, the challenges present in our own lives are ours to master.

The challenges that I will focus on here are challenges to our highest ways of being. Our society makes it a challenge to be loving and kind, to be wise and true, to be humble and honest. We live in a harsh emotional climate where anger and hate, ridicule and insult, driven by fear, often rule the day.

“Fear is insidious, fear is contagious, fear reflects our darkest dreads & most harrowing nightmares. Fear is imagining far beyond the worst-case scenario. Fear becomes anger, becomes irrational, isolates & looks for a target for its terror. The awakened ones have always offered a spiritually designed alternative. It’s called mature love, evolved kindness, radical compassion. And, the good news is, it’s who we essentially are. When I commit to waking up & staying up, I find ways to serve Spirit by helping others. Divine guidance & intuition point me to the ways of personally contributing to forging a new path founded on inclusion & transcendence. God Is/I Am!”

~ Dr. Sue Rubin on Facebook

Fear is the major driver of our politics today (LINK), and when driven by fear, we cannot strive to the heights of human possibility, rather we can only focus on keeping what we fear at bay.

Dr. Sue Rubin hits the metaphysical nail on the head when she speaks of the need to change our viewpoint, our attitude, toward our fears. We need to “wake up and stay up” as spiritually mature people. Our fears are nothing but beliefs, nothing but inner reactions to an interpretation of outer events. We can change our attitudes – our interpretations. It is the key to spiritual growth.

“The GREATEST discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.”

~ William James

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The word attitude has an interesting meaning in aviation. It is a measure of the relationship of the wings of an aircraft to the horizon. You might think of your own attitude as the relationship of your emotional self to unconditional love. You have a “positive” attitude if you are close to unconditional love and a “negative” attitude the farther that you get from unconditional love.

“The highest attitude of mind, from which all else springs, is one of perfect calm and absolute trust in the Spirit.”

~ Ernest Holmes, Creative Mind

We constantly enable lousy attitudes in one another. We say things like “anyone would be upset.” (Really? How about the Dalai Lama?) We often rush to show sympathy to someone, when the more compassionate thing to do would be to remind them (lovingly) who they really are. We flock to “entertainment” where victimhood is celebrated, revenge is enacted, and violence and harsh words fill our ears. Actions such as this, no matter how well-meaning, simply serve to enable limitation and negativity.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

~ Viktor E. Frankl

Viktor Frankl survived the concentration camps of the Nazis not only physically, but psychologically as well – he refused to give the Nazis dominion over his mind and emotions. We are constantly surrounded by events which can, if we so empower them (and disempower ourselves in the process), distract us from our peace and purpose in life. Though regular, purposeful spiritual practices, we steel ourselves against such distractions – it is not that we do not see them, it is that we retain our power when we do. Staying empowered means that we can be humble, for one is only able to be truly humble when empowered. We are then open to the awe of being alive!

“Awe and humility–the twin attitudes necessary for religious or psychological truth–bring new life to each of us, if we can bear them.”

~ James Hollis

“Interesting times” call for a deeper dive into spiritual practice and, thus, a deeper sense of spiritual realization. We become what we think about all day long, so that spiritual practice must extend beyond just a morning formal practice. We must also pay attention to our thoughts and feelings as the day progresses, using clear intentions to guide us and bringing ourselves back into alignment when we drift or are distracted. Remember that our Source is Spirit – focus on that when things are challenging. But first, prepare yourself daily for those challenges that are on your agenda but have not arrived yet – build your spiritual muscle in advance.

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No current spiritual practice? Begin One!

Have a current practice? Expand and/or deepen it!

Affirm: Fear does not govern my life. I live in awareness of Source and I realize my Power as Love every moment of every day.

Meditation Ocean

“The decisive question for a human is: Is he/she related to something infinite or not? That is the telling question of his/her life. Only if we know that the thing which truly matters is the infinite can we avoid fixing our interests upon futilities, and upon all kinds of goals which are not of real importance. Thus, we demand that the world grant us recognition for qualities which we regard as personal possessions: our talent or our beauty. The more a human lays stress on false possessions, and the less sensitivity he/she has for what is essential, the less satisfying is his/her life. He/she feels limited because he/she has limited aims, and the result is envy and jealousy. If we understand and feel that here in this life we already have a link with the infinite, desires and attitudes change.”

~ Carl Gustav Jung – Memories Dreams and Reflections (gender-neutral added)

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Where you can get

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership, in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

WHEN THINGS DON’T GET BETTER

OR, AM I THE ONLY ONE HAVING TROUBLE SEEING THE GOOD IN THE ELECTION RESULTS?

“Nobody will save you but you. You alone have to engage your own contemplative development. . . . If you do not engage this development, and on your death-bed you confess and scream out for help to God, nothing is going to happen. Spiritual development is not a matter of mere belief. It is a matter of actual, prolonged, difficult growth, and merely professing belief is meaningless and without impact. It’s like smoking for twenty years, then saying, ‘Sorry, I quit.’ That will not impress cancer. Reality is not interested in your beliefs; it’s interested in your actions, what you actually do, your actual karma.”

~ Ken Wilber

New Thought’s penchant for positive thinking tends to attract optimistic thinkers. For those who are not natural optimists when they arrive at New Thought community, they often learn to direct their thinking in a more positive direction. Some do so better than others; some feel the need to project optimism in public (New Thought public, anyway), while harboring negative thought patterns inside.

Breaking News Fear

Since the election in November, I have heard and read a lot of responses from those in New Thought. Some call for action/resistance, some call for prayer and meditation, some call for reaching out to those with different political beliefs, some expect a change of heart in the newly elected president and his appointees, but just about every one calls for optimism. Even if, they may not see much reason to be optimistic.

Even our beloved Edwene Gaines, the longtime champion of the prosperity message in New Thought has spoken out in a distinctly non-optimistic manner on Facebook:

What do we call a person who lies, calls people names, insults others, demeans and belittles anyone who questions him or her, brags about assaulting women, doesn’t pay his debts, defames people of other religions, mimics the disabled, hides his finances, uses his position to increase his personal wealth and believes the American people will put up with this?

Oh yes, we call him THE LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD.
If this makes you angry or annoyed, PLEASE point out where I am not being truthful, and I will apologize. (I’m just saying…)

 Indeed, it is a time of confusion and pain for many, because we want to see the larger world around us reflect the values that we have within ourselves. What I saw in the 2016 election was not optimism, and that is of great concern. It means, among other things, that I have some work to do.

“I have read somewhere of an old Chinese curse: ‘May you be born in an interesting time!’ This is a VERY interesting time: there are no models for ANYTHING that is going on. It is a period of free fall into the future, and each has to make his or her own way. The old models are not working; the new have not yet appeared. In fact, it is we who are even now shaping the new in the shaping of our interesting lives. And that is the whole sense (in mythological terms) of the present challenge: we are the ‘ancestors’ of an age to come, the unwitting generators of its supporting myths, the mythic models that will inspire its lives.”

~ Joseph Campbell, Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine

 There are times in life when things do not go well. This is true in the life of every individual – we all experience pain, loss, betrayal, illness – and in the larger life of societies. New Thought principles encourage the development of spiritual awareness, love, and compassion. None of those things, as far as I can tell, are on the agenda of what will be the new United States government.

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In the realm of effect, some will clearly lose some protections that they had at the time of the election, be that some degree of security in one’s immigration status or the ability to get health care with a pre-existing condition. And while we in New Thought can encourage such people to up their consciousness to manifest something better, many people do not know how to do that, including, if we want to be honest, many in our New Thought spiritual communities.

“Feeling unsafe . . . is the first obstacle to love.” ~ Barbara Fredrickson

 Perhaps, as some of my colleagues say, this series of events will inevitably lead to a better society for us all, either through proving many wrong about the intentions of the incoming administration, or by means of something better arising through whatever chaos and wreckage is wrought. There is always an opportunity for growth – but forgive me if I am feeling sad that so many apparently must to traverse a more painful pathway to have that opportunity.

How do I know that? I don’t. I dearly hope that I am wrong, or that the resulting resurrected society is so wonderful that it is worth the suffering that it takes to realize it. But I know that breakdown does not automatically mean breakthrough. Sometimes, it just means collapse. We must seize the opportunities and be relentlessly devout in our spiritual practices so that we are prepared for the inevitable opportunities for growth.

We are called in times such as these to a higher way of being. Our inner compass can tell us if we are prepared sufficiently for the challenges we face. If our fear is greater than our realization of love, then we have more work to do.

 “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”

~ John Lennon

 Meditation Ocean

Now is not the time for those who have developed spiritual awareness to retreat from life. Now is the time to do what each of us is called to do – to pray and meditate, to take part in positive demonstrations, to speak from our hearts, to listen deeply to others, and to be patient with our culture as it changes form. Do what is yours to do after examining your heart. What is being called forth from you by these conditions?

“Be curious, not judgmental.” ~ Walt Whitman

Most of all, we must endeavor to live the lives that are possible for us, which are not dependent on any outside agency. We must live from a compassionate heart, from a consciousness that realizes our power, and which is impermeable to fear.

“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”

~ Winston Churchill

It is time to heal, to love, and to create a new world together.

“Spirit can only do for us what It can do through us.” ~ Ernest Holmes

 

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

NOTE: My new book CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership, is now available at this (LINK). Give one to your spiritual leader(s)!

I AM NOT MOVED BY APPEARANCES, THEREFORE, APPEARANCES MOVE

This morning at about 8:30 am, Rome time, I saw the results of the US election. I would say that I was shocked but not surprised – my inner voice had for some time been saying that there was a far greater level of support for Donald Trump and conservative policies than was being voiced in the public arenas to which I was attuned.

So how to respond? How to feel? What to do?

As I ate breakfast, I glanced at a couple of social media sites and a few news outlets. That didn’t help.

I felt a great sadness, and, at the same time, I felt that there is a wide swath of the US that I simply do not understand, and without understanding I would be unable to move forward in relation to them, and to myself. I was not in a place to think about specifics – what was likely to happen or not happen with all the branches of government being regressive as opposed to progressive or gridlocked for the next few years. I knew instinctively that I had to process my feelings first.

So, I went on a walkabout in Rome. This is a city that has survived many an incompetent and narcissistic leader. And it is still here. There are remains from thousands of years ago as well as still standing and useful buildings from six hundred or more years ago. Despite all the conflicts, avarice, inquisitions, fascists, communists, and others who have held sway here, the city still stands, vibrant and filled with life.

My walkabout led me past the Spanish Steps, the Villa Medici, the Piazza del Popolo, the Pantheon, the Piazza Vittoriano, the Trevi Fountain, and more. I stopped in every church that I passed, I lost count how many (there are a LOT of churches in Rome), and meditated for five or ten minutes in each.

Some of that time I had my eyes closed, and some I had them open to see the wonders of art in these amazing places. I saw the high percentage of artworks that depicted suffering, pain, and sadness; and yet, the general feeling of the churches and basilicas was of inspiration. I found solace in these buildings despite having left much of what is taught in them behind in my life.

I came back to my hotel room and looked at some quotes by Ernest Holmes that have inspired me. Here are a few:

“The thing simmers itself down to this. Can we, in the midst of negative conditions, accept a greater good? If we can we shall be complying with the Law of Life. We shall be giving Life a chance to work for us.” ~ Ernest Holmes 

“Cease weeping over the mistakes of yesterday and steadfastly holding the face of the great and divine Reality, walk in that Light wherein there is no darkness.” ~ Ernest Holmes

“I cleanse the windows of my mind, that I may become a mirror reflecting inspiration from the Most High.” ~ Ernest Holmes

“(One’s) mind should swing from inspiration to action, from contemplation to accomplishment, from prayer to performance.” ~ Ernest Holmes

“SELF-HEALING MUST COME FIRST OF ALL.” ~ Ernest Holmes

“Crying out to Life, beseeching It to be good, has no effect whatsoever upon It; It already is good. Asking It to give you life produces no good results; It has already incarnated Itself in you, as you. But inward awareness unifies the intellect with Life and binds the personal man back to the Universal Presence. This is what is meant by spiritual understanding and realization.” ~ Ernest Holmes, The Art of Life

THE HIGHEST ATTITUDE OF MIND. “The highest attitude of mind, from which all else springs, is one of perfect calm and absolute trust in the Spirit. The one who can with perfect confidence look into the future and with perfect ease of mind rest in the present, and who never looks backward, but who has learned to be still in his own soul and wait upon the Spirit, he is the one who will the most completely demonstrate the supremacy of spiritual thought over all so-called material resistance. ‘Be still and know that I Am God.’” Ernest Holmes, Creative Mind

And this quote from Florence Scovel Shinn that I used as the title of this post:

“I am not moved by appearances; therefore, appearances move.”

My suggestion to all who read this is to get in touch with your feelings about this election and its meaning in your life. Ask yourself what is causing any feelings that arise and further, ask if your mind is focused on the ultimate Truth of your being, or on the fear that comes from believing that others have dominion over your experience.

Ours is not to wish that what has appeared had not. Ours is to make our way through the current expressions of external reality toward something greater. And to do so with love, clarity, and compassion.

Once that is clear, you are read to decide how you will be with the new external reality and what, if any, actions you may take.

Do your spiritual practices as often and as deeply as needed to allow yourself to move through whatever is stopping your from embracing Life within and without.

I am still processing all of this and will be for some time. My flight back to the U.S. is scheduled for tomorrow, after nearly six months in Europe and the Middle East. I look forward to being a healing presence wherever possible.

Love and Light to all.

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Copyright 2016 – Jim Lockard

WHEN HEALING IS REVEALING – AND WHAT IS REVEALED IS PAINFUL TO SEE

I know that in metaphysics we learn that the process of healing is often initiated by having hidden truths revealed – often by negative experiences. We are wounded by something and an inner truth that we have hidden or repressed is revealed. At that point, we have a choice – to do the work to heal what has been revealed, or, to do the work of burying it again so that we do not have to face it. The work of healing what is revealed is often daunting, demanding, and scary.

Examples abound. A diagnosis of cancer reveals unhealed childhood fears about our own mortality; someone burglarizes our home, revealing deep fears that can become debilitating (many people sell their home after a burglary); a trip to the emergency room reveals the addiction that we have been in denial about, sending us into deep fear about the huge hill to climb to recovery.

Sometimes we make the choice to do the healing work and sometimes, we do not. In the Spiral Dynamics community, we often say – breakdown can lead to breakthrough, but it can also lead to collapse. There are no guarantees that we will successfully undertake a healing process after such a revelation. We may try but fail, or we may not try at all.

“Healing is not CREATING a perfect idea or a perfect body; it is revealing an idea which is already perfect. . . . Disease is a fact but not a truth; it is an experience but not a spiritual reality.”

~ Ernest Holmes, THE SCIENCE OF MIND

Until we are ready to confront those aspects of ourselves, healing will elude us.

Which brings me to Donald Trump.

During this election cycle thus far, Mr. Trump has opened a lot of wounds. I do not have the time or the space to list them all, so let’s just look at one – the issue of how our culture values and treats women. This has been a front-burner issue this past week, and may well continue to be one for the remaining weeks before the election.

I am less concerned about the specifics of any issues or allegations about Mr. Trump or about former President Bill Clinton, or about former FOX News CEO and current Trump Advisor Roger Ailes, nor even the fact that Hillary Clinton is being held up for derision by many because her husband cheated on her, and more concerned about the meaning of all of this for our society. How we deal with our individual and collective Shadows is elemental to our future.

Poster - Jung - Darkness Light

If it isn’t clear to you that our U.S. culture is paternalistic, that women are, in many ways, second-class citizens, and that the objectification and devaluation of women is ongoing in ways both covert and overt, then I suggest that you wake up and smell the coffee. Maybe this post from a woman names Gretchen Kelly will help (LINK). Or this video of a speech by Michelle Obama (LINK).

Go ahead, I’ll wait for you. And yes, the speech is partisan. I suggest you watch it anyway.

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What the explosion of reaction around Donald Trump’s relationships with women has done is reveal a deep-seated sense of inequality in our society that costs women dearly – both in everyday indignities and, sometimes, their lives.

Once again, we are at a crossroads – as we were during the days of the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, The Gulf War, The Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, the LGBTQ movement – well, I said no litanies here, so let’s stop. We have an opportunity, ironically enough thanks to Mr. Trump, to take a pathway toward healing. Will we? I do not know.

Turning our attention to our own New Thought communities, we might ask how we are doing in terms of this issue. Anything to heal here?

I can’t really answer that question, because as noted in the excellent post from Gretchen Kelly cited above, I am not qualified to answer it. As a man, even one who tries to be aware, I am largely unconscious to how the valuation of women plays out. When I do examine my thoughts and actions, I can see where I have failed to honor women in all ways. Things in New Thought may look okay to me, but I can also say that I have been told by some women in New Thought that there have been, and continue to be, issues. There are very likely, in fact almost certainly, some hidden and denied patterns that are waiting to be revealed.

I do not think that it is in keeping with our principles to take a position that says something like – things are better than they used to be and will probably get better over time. Nope, that’s an inadequate position on any issue where injustice is ongoing.

Maybe Donald Trump can help us in New Thought as well. May we take the opportunity to move toward healing.

I would especially like to hear from my women New Thought readers on this issue – what is your perspective? Men, too, of course. As always, comments are appreciated.

Copyright 2016 – Jim Lockard

WHEN THE SPIRITUAL LEADER IS TOXIC – PART 2

WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE A MEMBER OF A COMMUNITY

WHERE THE LEADER IS ENGAGING IN TOXIC BEHAVIORS

In Part 1 of this series (LINK) I wrote about some of the various ways that spiritual leaders might manifest their inner woundedness in the form of dysfunction, malfeasance, and even abuse. In this post, I will explore what a member of a spiritual community can do if the spiritual leader is expressing such behaviors. I highly recommend that you read Part 1 before reading this post.

Church stood on its head

The Chaos of Toxic Behavior can Turn a Spiritual Community Upside Down

It is a very difficult thing to be a member of a spiritual community where these kinds of behaviors are occurring. And while there are degrees of such behaviors, and while NO ONE IS PERFECT, it can safely be said that it is a painful experience for everyone when such dynamics manifest.

It is VERY IMPORTANT to get yourself to a SAFE PLACE if you are THREATENED by VIOLENCE or SEXUAL ABUSE or HARASSMENT, no matter the source of that threat. If you are directly involved in a situation with someone whose behaviors are toxic, read Item #6 below now.

That has to be said up front.

And so does this:

There is healing potential in every situation, in every person, at all times. And yes, everything that happens is potentially FOR US, even if that aspect is well-hidden. That said, if you are mired in a negative situation and can find no way out, you may need to get some help or, at minimum, take some action to reduce the harm. Doing nothing and waiting for the situation to change can pave the way for additional harm. We must understand that not all of us are “fully spiritually realized” to the point that we are able to heal every situation, or even to realize when we may be in over our head (meaning beyond our current capabilities to affect a healing). There is nothing to be ashamed of here – and it is an important personal realization.

Then, with these things in mind, my suggestion is to begin with Principle. By that, I mean the basic Principles of our wonderful New Thought teachings, which may vary in the language used from organization to organization, but are all from the same origins.

“The (person) who has learned to love all people, no matter who they may be, will find plenty of people who will return that love to (them). This is not mere sentiment, and it is more than a religious attitude of mind; it is a deep scientific fact, and one to which we should pay attention. The reason is this: As all is mind, and as we attract to us what we first become, until we learn to love we are not sending out love vibrations, and not until we send out love vibrations can we receive love in return. One of the first things to do is to learn to love everybody. . . .There is always more good than bad in people, and seeing the good tends to bring it forth. Love is the greatest healing and drawing power on earth. . . .The life that has not loved has not lived; it is still dead.”

~ Ernest Holmes, Creative Mind and Success

The first principle to remember in such cases is the need to love all people, beginning with yourself. The essence of my inner work must be love. There can be no healing without love – and healing is what is being called for in these situations. And not just the healing of the spiritual leader – but the healing of anyone within whom strong negative emotions arise, anyone who is driven into their own darkness by their reactions.

“Be mindful of how necessary the ongoing work of healing is for each of us.”

~ James Hollis, Jungian analyst

Calling forward your best inner reserves is the best way to begin. You remember who you are and what you are – you are Love. Then we remember that the others involved are also Love. No exceptions.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of doing your est to get to a place of spiritual and psychological clarity should a situation such as this occur in your life. The emotional nature of being exposed to a trusted spiritual leader who is violating that trust can have the effect of “hijacking your amygdala” – an emotional takeover of your thinking mind that affects your consciousness. So personal spiritual practice is essential and should be expanded and deepened in such times of challenge; you may want to see your practitioner or spiritual support person (perhaps someone outside your own community) and have them work on your behalf in Mind. More about this in #6 below.

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When you reach a point of spiritual and psychological clarity (or begin to), you might then look at your options. If you have not reached clarity, talk to a trusted advisor about your options. This may be influenced by your position in the spiritual community. The following list is not meant to be exhaustive:

  1. Are you a minister (not the Spiritual Leader), practitioner, or lay minister? If so, you may have some additional responsibilities to the entire community by virtue of your role. You should, at a minimum, be aware of the ethics policies of your organization and who to contact should an ethical violation(s) have occurred or be occurring.
    1. You may also be in a position of trust with the spiritual leader or other involved parties, and be able to speak to him/her about the issues at hand (but not at the cost of your own safety).
    2. You may have an obligation to report the behaviors to your Ethics Department (or equivalent).
    3. If you are the victim of some form of abuse by the spiritual leader, you need to take steps to protect yourself from further harm and to report the abuse or ethical violations to the Ethics Department (or equivalent) – see item #6.
  2. Are you a member of the Board of Directors, CORE Council, or Board of Trustees? If so, you may have organizational responsibilities to take some action or to report based upon your position. If there are financial irregularities involved, board members may be personally liable (meaning responsible) to take some kind of appropriate action.
    1. You may also be in a position of trust with the spiritual leader or other involved parties, and be able to speak to him/her about the issues at hand (but not at the cost of your own safety).
    2. You may need to report the behaviors to your Ethics Department (or equivalent).
    3. You may need to report illegal activities to local authorities.
    4. If you are the victim of some form of abuse by the spiritual leader, you need to take steps to protect yourself from further harm and to report the abuse or ethical violations to the Ethics Department (or equivalent).
  3. Are you a paid employee of the spiritual community? This may mean that you have additional concerns about your livelihood – but this does not alter any moral responsibilities that you have.
    1. You may need to report the behaviors to your Ethics Department (or equivalent).
    2. You may need to report illegal activities to local authorities.
    3. If you are the victim of some form of abuse by the spiritual leader, you need to take steps to protect yourself from further harm and to report the abuse or ethical violations to the Ethics Department (or equivalent).
  4. Are you a voting member of the spiritual community? You have identified yourself as a voting constituent of the community, meaning that you see yourself accountable in some ways for the overall well-being of the community.
    1. You may need to report the behaviors to your Ethics Department (or equivalent).
    2. You may need to report illegal activities to local authorities.
    3. If you are the victim of some form of abuse by the spiritual leader, you need to take steps to protect yourself from further harm and to report the abuse or ethical violations to the Ethics Department (or equivalent).
  5. Are you an attendee at the spiritual community? If you are not directly involved in the situation, you may not have any “official” accountabilities, however, we are all responsible for our own well-being and in some cases, the well-being of others in our lives. Perhaps there is some way to positively contribute to a healing process, however, you can leave the community if that seems like your best option. I would seek to avoid the choice to become a spectator or to share in gossip and innuendo – better to be a healing agent or to leave.
  6. If you are directly involved, first, take some time to explore your feelings about the situation – you may choose to seek counsel from a trusted friend or a professional. Unless a response is time-critical (as in you or someone else is in danger), you can take some time to work through the emotional impact of what has occurred. Your emotional response needs to be given a voice so that healing can proceed. Sometimes, the very place that you would go to for such support – your own spiritual leader and spiritual community – may not be available to you. If that is the case, my suggestion is to find some counseling help outside of that community – someplace where you are assured of confidentiality.

6A. When you are ready, you need to know that the New Thought organizations have resources for you to call upon. Visit your organization’s website or call the home office of your organization and ask to speak to someone about how to report ethical improprieties. If there are violations of the law involved, you might speak to the appropriate local authorities – police or prosecutor’s office.

Beyond any official accountability, it is very important that people act to ensure the overall safety and well-being of members of the spiritual community. In some cases, this may not be as simple as it sounds; victims often become attached to the victimizer. And while we in New Thought tend to reject the idea of victimhood as legitimate, the dynamics which occur in power-relationships involving a spiritual leader and members of his or her community cannot be denied. Dysfunction can be magnetic and attract people who might otherwise stay clear of such things.

Another thing to remember in such situations is that you will not be able to return to the way things were – the past is not going to happen again, it is gone. The only way through is forward to the future.

“Healing does not mean going back to the way things were before, but rather allowing what is now to move us closer to God.” ~ Ram Dass

Effecting a change in a toxic situation is going to change the way things are, both for the individuals who may be directly involved, and for the spiritual community as a whole. The future, regardless of outcome, will be different from the past. Sometimes, we hesitate to speak out or to act because we hope that things can go back to the way they were. We must come to realize that before we knew of the problem, the problem still existed. It just may not have come into awareness yet. The idea going forward is to facilitate healing at every level where it is required so that the future may be one of joy and fulfillment.

We are called to be spiritually mature adults in such situations. Each of us must try to live up to that standard as best we can, knowing that we have the full support of Spirit within us at all times.

In Part 3 of this series, I will address what a spiritual leader who finds him/herself engaged in, or contemplating, toxic behaviors can do to facilitate a healing resolution.

As always, your comments are welcome – however, I am asking that any comments about specific cases not include specific identifying information (names/places), for what I think are obvious reasons. Any comments containing such information will not be approved for posting. I am available for personal consultations – you can contact me at DrJim-Lockard@ATT.net for that purpose.

 

Copyright 2016 – Jim Lockard

CHANGE, PART 1: RESISTANCE TO CHANGE – A NEW THOUGHT DILEMMA

“There is no greater mistake than to be afraid of change, and yet many intelligent people dread it and cling to what is customary and familiar. To be afraid of change is to doubt the providence of God. It is an unintelligent fear of the unknown. . . . Welcome every change that comes into every phase of your life.”

~ Emmet Fox, “Find and Use Your Inner Power” 

Let’s talk about change.

Poster - Change is Good - You Go First

I have been in New Thought, in Religious Science to be specific, since 1989. During that time, I have read countless books, articles, blog posts, and social media posts about how to use my mind to change my life for the better. I have read Ernest Holmes, Alan Watts, Ram Dass, Joseph Campbell, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ralph Waldo Trine, Thomas Troward, Emmet Fox, Emma Curtis Hopkins, Marianne Williamson, Wayne Dyer, Eckhart Tolle, Don Miguel Ruiz, Marion Woodman, Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, and on and on. I have read spiritual, business, motivational, political, scientific, and other kinds of authors. I have watched videos, full-length movies, gone to conferences, retreats, classes, workshops, rituals, had hundreds of deep conversations and read more than a few bumper stickers. I have spoken, presented, been on panels, taught, and written my share for others as well.

Through all of that, I am almost continually amazed that despite all of the training that those in New Thought receive about one thing – change – that there is so much resistance to change at every level within our movement. It is almost as if many of us were suffering from methathesiophobia.

“Metathesiophobia” — (noun) Described as a fear of unwanted change, metathesiophobia reveals a deeper personal and existential challenge than most phobias. Metathesiophobia is rooted from an inner insecurity and the knowledge that we cannot control every detail in our lives, such as your best friend moving away or entering adulthood. (LINK)

When it comes to change, many in New Thought, just as many in the general population, are conservative in the sense that they do not seek change beyond limited areas of their lives; and often resist change that is someone else’s idea or that calls them out of a place of relative comfort.

“Change is simply motion within Life.” 

~ Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind

Maybe we in New Thought make so many personal changes that we become a bit change-averse after a while. We come to recognize the costs, in personal energy, in unexpected consequences, in extra work, and in personal pain – so we back off a bit. We may develop another malady, psychosclerosis – a hardening of the attitudes. This may be mostly an unconscious process that occurs over time.

“Change is hard because people don’t only think on the surface level. Deep down people have mental maps of reality — embedded sets of assumptions, narratives and terms that organize thinking. . . . People almost never change their underlying narratives or unconscious frameworks.”

~ David Brooks, NYTimes 1/29/2013

Often, community and organizational changes can be more challenging than individual changes. They require cooperation with others in addition to personal changes. When a center moves to a new location or changes the number of services and/or service times and people have to adjust, they often resist the change (even to the point of no longer attending), even if intellectually they can see the value in the changes.

The Integration process between the former United Church of Religious Science and Religious Science International into Centers for Spiritual Living was and continues to be the driver for a vast number of changes. The “conversation” about whether and how to accomplish the Integration took nine years. The first two years of that time was spent communicating the idea to the field and some was spent getting to the point where a significant majority were in favor of joining the organizations together. The next seven years was spent primarily doing two things – first, convincing some stakeholders that the aspects of their own culture that they treasured would, at least for the most part, remain intact, and second, working to undo a fair amount of mis-information being shared rather loudly by a few stakeholders who were strongly against the Integration. Even the word Integration was coined by a consultant to replace the word “merger” so as to make the concept more palatable to some. So the process did not exactly speed along.

Poster - Change ReasonsWe are now four years into the new organization and the growing pains are still evident. Some embrace the new willingly, some still foster grievances about the “loss” of their former organizational culture. Some still identify people by which organization they were affiliated with before the Integration.

Over in Unity, an attempt was made to merge the Unity Worldwide Ministries and the Unity World Headquarters. That merger did not happen.

I believe that we in New Thought have a lot to learn about change at every levelpersonal, communal, and organizational. We need to foster the development of better leadership skills at every level of the movement so that we are better able to stay abreast of our rapidly changing culture, technology, and education. We can no longer afford to resist change, for change is upon us at increasing speed. Fortunately, we who know how to master change using the great spiritual and psychological principles of New Thought’s founders. So I would say that we need to step up our game.

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

~ George Bernard Shaw

For one thing, we need to look at the idea that changes to our organization, or to how we do services or classes, or whether we do outreach, somehow threaten our principles. As an example, there are a vocal few on the CSL Ministers’ List Serve call out anyone who suggests that a spiritual community or (God forbid) CSL as a whole, embrace spiritually motivated social activism. The message is clear – RELIGIOUS SCIENCE DOES NOT TELL ANYONE WHAT TO DO, WE TEACH PEOPLE CONSCIOUSNESS. The authors of these “messages,” whom I personally respect, seem to fail to see the irony in their telling others what to do by saying that Religious Science doesn’t tell people what to do.

Some fear of change arises from an unconscious fear of success.

“Accommodating change and uncertainty requires a looser sense of self, and ability to respond in various ways. This is perhaps why qualified success unsettles those who are locked into fixed positions. The shift back to failure is a defensive measure.”

~ Rebecca Solnit (LINK)

There is an additional irony in the example about the Ministers’ List Serve. The stance of the “verbal few” flies in the face of the fact that in creating the Centers for Spiritual Living organization by approving the founding documents in 2011, the organization nearly unanimously (99%) adopted a set of values and principles which clearly includes spiritually motivated social activism along with strategic spiritual partnerships to foster our vision of #AWorldThatWorksForEveryone. I have posted about this before (LINK). This is not the topic at hand, only an illustration of it.

“But time inexorably marches on, and people evolve. No historical solution is ever permanent. If you are unwilling to change quickly enough, you lose control of the situation.”

~ Albert Camus, Algerian Chronicles

The topic at hand is resistance to change and the refusal of some to see a way forward in the CSL organization and local communities for spiritually motivated social activism is but one example. Another is our collective refusal to seriously look at the diminishing participation in Sunday services and other “church-like” activities. Instead of actively planning ahead to explore the development new models and teaching innovation (which even some mainstream denominations have been doing, in some cases for decades), we continue to teach our new ministers as if we were in a stable situation instead of one in rapid transformation. And there is the general need in today’s fast-evolving times to embed a sense of innovation in every organization’s values system as well as in its operations. Why do we resist so? Your comments are appreciated.

“Change is inevitable. Progression is a choice.”

~ Sonya Teclin

In my next post, I will explore a model that can add to our understanding the dynamics of change and our resistance to it as we move forward – The Edgewalker Model developed by Judi Neal.

Poster - Change is a Process

Copyright 2016 – Jim Lockard

LET’S DO THIS – NEW THOUGHT AND AMERICAN POLITICS, Part 3

The purpose of this series of posts is to explore the relationship between New Thought principles, how we apply them to our lives, and to the conditions arising out of the current U. S. political scene. I have been struck both by the level of anxiety and fear that I am seeing in many in New Thought and by the negative tone of many of the political posts on social media and conversations that I have been party to on political topics.

“A new world is upon you and all peoples of the earth. A different tomorrow awaits.   Nothing is going to be the way it was before.

Not your finances, not your politics, not your work life, not your relationships, not the way you experience your spirituality — all of it is changing…and is going to continue to change. The only question remaining: Will you be part author of those continuing changes, or merely one who is impacted by them?” ~ Neal Donald Walsh

As I noted in Part 1 (LINK), there was a recent thread on the Centers for Spiritual Living Ministers’ List Serve that showed that many ministers are having some of the same issues of anxiety regarding conditions, and that some of them seem to be searching for a way forward – wanting to assist those in their ministries who are seeking guidance on these matters, but also having an aversion to bringing up politics in their ministries.

Sign - Spirituality & Politics

This series of posts arose out of my desire to initiate a conversation about this, my desire to clarify my own feelings about our politics, and to perhaps provide some way forward for those who share our philosophy as to how to best engage in our politics. Regardless of how one chooses to engage, it is essential that spiritual principles be brought to bear on our words and actions.

I received a request to write about how the current politics show up on the spiral, as in Spiral Dynamics™. I will do that here in relation to presidential politics, and in future posts focus on discovering best practices for spiritual leaders and for all of us in New Thought to use in engaging in politics, whether that be the simple act of voting (or not), or even running as a candidate.

For those who need a refresher on Spiral Dynamics, visit this (LINK).

Essentially, the memestack, or the Levels of Existence, that are prevalent in the United States include, egotistical-Red (small but noisy), traditionalist-Blue, modernist-Orange, postmodernist-Green, and integral-Yellow. The first two, Red and Blue, are shrinking in number, but have been awakened in this election, mostly by the candidacy of Donald Trump. Generally, people who are centered at these levels feel left-behind, and, in fact, they do find themselves in a world that is generally more complex than they are currently capable of being highly effective in. There are various divides in this group, regional, racial, etc., and that also has some impact on who they support in the election.

The Orange, Green and Yellow Levels of Existence are all growing in numbers and the nation as a whole is centered between upper Blue and lower Green – meaning that modernist-Orange is pretty much at the center of things. Orange is the level that dominates in corporations, government, and various institutions of power, including much of the media. These groups are very different.

Orange is individualistic, rational, secular, entrepreneurial, and creative in the areas of technology, marketing and finance.

Green is communal, feelings-oriented, egalitarian, values the common-good, and is creative in the areas of extending rights, ecology, and spirituality (but not religion!).

Yellow is small but growing, is 2nd Tier, independent, has the widest and deepest view of the spiral, and can see solutions to most 1st Tier problems, but may have difficulty getting cooperation from those centered at 1st Tier.

VMEMEs Simplified

The candidates are both centered at one of more of these Levels of Existence, and they need to message at a minimum two or more of these levels. So let’s take a look at where I see the candidates and their messages. Note that these are my opinions (LINK) based on my knowledge of the Spiral Dynamics model and my observations of the candidates and their messages. Also, note that there are other variables present than the spiral. For example, there are the personalities and the styles of the candidates, their intelligence levels – IQ, EQ and SQ – that all have effects on various voters and groups of voters.

Is this important?

“More important than any other quality in our politicians we must demand psychological illumination, psychological awareness, because otherwise we get people sparring with their own shadows. Otherwise you’ll get nations, as we had in 1939, like the Germans projecting their shadows onto the Jews, and then when they were eliminating the Jews, onto the Poles and God knows what else.” ~Sir Laurens van der Post, Matter of Heart

1 candidates

Looking at the candidates from the two major parties:

On the Republican side, we have:

Donald J. Trump: Mr. Trump is the quintessential entrepreneurial Orange (as opposed to the scientific/rational Orange of a Bill Nye the Science Guy). A captain of industry (building, real estate, gaming, entertainment), he proudly and ostentatiously puts the name TRUMP on everything. He brags about his wealth, is strength, etc. Entrepreneurial Orange is about status, bling, and getting attention, and Mr. Trump excels at all three.

1 candidate Trump-voters-Getty

His message, however, is less to Orange and more toward lower Blue and Red. He is very effectively awakening a segment of the largely white formerly middle-class Americans who have, for various reasons, largely been left behind by the dynamic changes of the past 60 years. Things like globalization, the information revolution, and changes in monetary and trade policy have led to negative social and economic impacts on this large swath of the U.S. population.  Mr. Trump’s disruptive message (compared to traditional political campaigning) also appeals to some higher on the spiral, such as higher level Blue, who seek a return to traditional values and see Trump as a possibility despite apparent conflicts with his own lifestyle and practices. He also is on message to some in Orange who see him as one of them and who will work to loosen government regulations on businesses and banks.

Senator Ted Cruz is apparently at BLUE-Orange (all caps means that level is more dominant). He espouses traditional values from a conservative Christian perspective, which is in line with many in the U.S. today. He also straddles to the Orange side in being friendly toward unfettered business interests (his wife was with Goldman-Sacs). He has an Ivy League education, clerked for the U.S. Supreme Court, and otherwise has lived as an economic elite.

1 candidate cruz

Senator Cruz’s message has largely focused on solid traditionalist-Blue values, with a very fundamentalist Christian lens. His message is decidedly absolutist and he abhors relativism. His audience has been that part of the Republican Party that is heavily evangelical with inroads into the conservative Christians in the nations’ suburbs (think megachurch attendees). He is also popular with Latinos who are conservative Christians.

Governor John Kasich represents a more Blue-ORANGE level. While espousing traditional values, he is flexible in making way for Orange priorities such a privatization and he focuses on making a business-friendly environment.

1 candidate kasich

His message is consistent with the past several Republican presidential candidates, more centrist in tone than Senator Cruz, more polite than Mr. Trump. He has received little support in the primaries.

On the Democratic side, we have

Secretary Hillary Clinton is centered at Orange. Her track record as Secretary of State and as a Senator exhibit the Democratic side of Orange – business friendly with a slightly greater tendency to support regulation. A Democrat at Orange is a centrist. Remember that at Orange, we tend to be more rational, pragmatic, and focused on getting things accomplished. Money and metrics mean a lot.

1 candidate hillary

Senator Clinton’s message has been pulled in two directions from Orange. One is to Blue, where many of the remaining labor unions reside – Blue is also the home of patriotism, loving the flag, and related values; the other is to Green, where the growing number of Democrats reside. Green is very egalitarian and wants every voice to be heard; Green wants peace; Green literally wants no child left behind. Green is very sensitive to messages that stray from their values – especially to Orange values. This makes it very difficult for a Democratic candidate to straddle the Orange and Green values systems – it is easier to straddle Blue and Orange. But the future of the Democratic party is at Green. But the current leadership of the Democratic party and most of the major donors are at Orange.

Senator Bernie Sanders is centered at Green. He has been at Green since his early days, where one also sees a considerable streak of Blue. This is not that unusual. Blue and Green are both communitarian systems with a high reject of many Orange values. Sanders’ transition through Orange may have been brief. He is clearly campaigning against Orange values and has very little support from those centered at Orange.

1 candidate BERNIE_G_

Senator Sanders’ message resonates with those centered at Green, because he is the only candidate really speaking to those values. None of the Republicans are, and while Senator Clinton is speaking to them to some degree, it is out of her natural value system to do so which is apparent to many people. Senator Sanders has captured a wide swath of millennials who have moved up the spiral to Green a decade or more earlier than their parents may have. Many millennials at Green have excellent BS detectors from their many hours in social media and they recoil from the traditional politicians who speak in researched and rehearsed sound bites and don’t directly answer questions. Senator Sanders does not do that, and it has gained him popularity among the youth and cost him coverage by much of the media who did not see him as a serious candidate from their mostly Orange perspective. He is also appealing to a segment of the population that would be attracted to Mr. Trump, but who find Trump’s message too harsh and unappealing.

Again, these are my opinions. You may see it differently. In any case, an understanding of Spiral Dynamics does give insight into several aspects of the political dynamics. It can give insight into what is being communicated and from which values systems and how it is being heard. And it can help those of us on a spiritual pathway see how to engage more effectively and compassionately in the process. I hope that you found this information helpful.

“Creating a better world will require will-power, vision and determination. And for that we need a strong sense that humanity is one family.” ~ H.H. The Dalai Lama

In the next post, I will focus on other issues in politics, including the spread of so-called “religious freedom” laws in several states.

 

Copyright 2016 – Jim Lockard

MINISTERING WHEN FEAR AND XENOPHOBIA ARE OPENLY EXPRESSED

We are in turbulent times. Fear is pervasive in North America and beyond, being driving by events, but also by a Balkanized media, from many pulpits across the continent, and on social media. We fear terrorism, economic hardship, crime, corruption, and the increasing corporatization of our lives. Many also fear our food, from concerns about GMO’s to farmed fish.

Breaking News Fear

Currently, we are seeing a series of terrorist attacks from Paris to Beirut, to Mali, and beyond, not to mention the fighting with extremists in the Middle East and parts of Africa. Waves of Syrian refugees are creating their own climate of fear in Europe and North America, as fears that terrorists are implanted among the refugees have spread through our political systems.

Fear – Fear – Fear.

Poster - Fear is a Liar

On social media, especially Facebook, there is an outpouring of fear of all kinds, and responses to that fear that either feed it, or make it wrong. Neither is a very sound approach. People are searching for answers to increasingly complex issues from ideologies and theologies that are from the past. That is not a sound approach either.

If you are a New Thought spiritual leader, you probably have people in your ministry who are “captured” by cable news and ideological websites of one kind or another. They are afraid, because they are being bombarded by “authorities” who tell them that they, their nation, their values and their world is in great danger. As a spiritual leader, you may be experiencing these fears yourself.

Politically, this happens on the left and the right; spiritually, it happens across the spectrum from fundamentalist to New Age and New Thought circles. Let’s not kid ourselves.

As I said above, searching for answers in to increasingly complex times from ideologies and theologies that are from the past is not a sound approach. Yet, what else do we have? The belief systems and cultural evolutionary levels of existence that contain solutions to the significant problems of current times, are only just emerging, and they have no particular acceptance or influence on leaders in any major sector of society.

What this means, in Spiral Dynamics™ terms, is that pre-traditional (Purple and Red), traditional (Blue), modern (Orange) and, to a lesser but growing extent, postmodern (Green) values are operating in those in leadership positions in government, business, media, and the like. All of these levels are within the 1st Tier of Levels of Existence or vMEME’s, and all of 1st Tier is fear-based. Think of the sentence, “If everyone doesn’t think the way I/we do, we are all doomed.” This concept applies across the entire 1st Tier levels of complexity of thought, which account for around 95% of the world’s population. Fear is the name of the game.

How to minister in this “field of fear?” How to present the principles of New Thought when the minds of some, or even many community members are filled with fear? The hour or so on Sunday and the couple of hours per week that some are in class, pale compared to the time being spent watching cable news, looking at “news” websites and on social media. How to have a positive effect sufficient to counterbalance the negative, fear-based environment outside of your ministry?

How about this quote from Dr. Ernest Holmes: “Cease weeping over the mistakes of yesterday and steadfastly holding the face of the great and divine Reality, walk in that Light wherein there is no darkness.” ~ Ernest Holmes

Some will recall that it was at the top of a statement released by Dr. Kenn Gordon, Spiritual Leader of Centers for Spiritual Living, after the terrorist attacks in Paris last week. There were some who felt that using this particular quote was inappropriate because it was too strong a concept right after a tragedy.

Of the many principles of New Thought and the thousands of possible quotations by New Thought founders, leaders, and others who are in harmony with New Thought, which ones does a spiritual leader choose to use?

It is important to note that people will hear what is said and read what is written from their own vMEMEtic level of existence, which is very likely different from the person who delivers it, which is also quite possibly different than the person who originated the quote.

In a generalized sense, the quote above by Dr. Holmes would quite possibly be heard as follows:

Egotistical-Red: as a call to battle; to go forth bravely and to restore the “face” which has been lost.

Traditionalist-Blue: as an instruction as to how to think and feel about the situation from an Authority.

Modernist-Orange: To go within and find one’s higher self and from that realization to continue forward unbowed, and to know the ultimate Truth.

Postmodernist-Green: As a call to know the greatest truth that may offend some and may cause discomfort in others. There would likely be discomfort with the use of this quote ranging from mild to significant.

Now, these are generalizations, but they are consistent with what is known about the various levels of existence listed. By the way, the quotation was written by Dr. Holmes, most of whose teachings came from the Orange vMEME.

A way to account for the other levels present in a spiritual community is to include elements in messages, talks, letters, etc., that speak to all of the levels present. Dr. Gordon did this in the text of his message.

In order to do that effectively, one needs to understand the Spiral Dynamics model. There are online resources that can help, and I will be presenting an online webinar on Spiral Dynamics, beginning in March 2016. More details will follow on that.

For now, my recommendation is to create space in your ministry for people to express their fears in a safe way. Do not feel that you must have all of the answers, often simply expressing the fear can help to resolve it. Refrain from insisting that everyone see these world and local issues in a certain way – encourage free thinking based on spiritual principles. Take them to the door, but let them enter on their own.

Poster - Fear

People who are shrunken by fear are not wrong. They are interpreting what they see, read, and are told through their vMEMEtic level of existence. They need to be coaxed back into a loving and empowered place – or at minimum be given the opportunity to find that space within themselves. That is what ministry in times of fear is all about.

Campbell - The Cave You Fear to Enter